iPad in Business -- Doctors Want it, Omni Group Gets it


While much of iPad presentation thus far has been focused on content consumption, Apple's iWork demo and the ability to run iPhone productivity apps -- and eventually iPad-specific apps -- as well as 1024x768 web apps means it's got a fighting chance in business, especially key verticals like medicine, and with developers like Omni Group.

First up, 9to5mac reports that in a survey by medical lynch-pin Epocrates [Free - iTunes link], up to 60% of doctors were at least considering an iPad:

  • 9 percent want it now
  • 13 percent want it this year
  • 38 percent were interested and wanted more info

Next, Mac developer Omni Group, which has dipped a toe into iPhone development with Omni Focus [$19.99 - iTunes link], has decided to port than entire portfolio of apps -- OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, OmniPlan, OmniFocus, and OmniGraphSketcher -- to iPad even if it delays development of the Mac versions:

Remember how Macintosh was intended to be the computer “for the rest of us“? That’s what we feel Apple’s iPad is: the best computing device for most of the things people use computers for. (Or, as Apple puts it, “the best way to experience the web, email, and photos.”) It’s the computer people can sit down and start using immediately, without training, whether they’re 2 or 92.

Having seen many workers struggle with inelegant interfaces and fidget with poorly conceived controls, the idea of a great app on a 9.7" multitouch screen will no doubt be highly appealing to some. An app that could work across iPhone, iPad, and desktop could also allow for quick reference when on the go, easy exploration when on site, and powerful organization and reporting when back at the desk. Sound appealing to you?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iPad in Business -- Doctors Want it, Omni Group Gets it


I'd rather my doctor spent more time checking me out than messing about on an iPad. Unless they can categorically show where it is going to improve medical care, then they are simply trying to shoehorn technogy into places it seves no purpose.

Yep ipad looks to potentially be the missing hardware link for our mobile primary care workforce of the future 9 hour battery, light, droppable, 3g, makes our virtual web office a reality to reduce physician overhead 80%. So sad much of hit industry is still pc based with it's current inferior hardware expensive and unecessary software and exorbitant security costs. NAtalie hodge md faap

It's not like your doctor is going to be playing skeeball vs. auscultating breath sounds. The idea of a tablet inputting device has applealed to the medical community for years, but all the incarnations thus far have proven disappointing. All medical records are being converted to electronic, and quicker input means more time for patient care. Reimbursement continues to drop and being efficient is a necessity.

Healthcare has never been known for its prowess in cutting edge IT. Maybe the iPad can leapfrog this by providing a refined interface to Electronic Medical Records. But nothing even close to an iPad (or even Mac) EMR outside of a Citrix window currently even exists.
With HIT Stimulus kicking in starting 2011, they'd need to hustle something to market, get certified and beat entrenched solutions.

@Natalie hodge
where does it say the ipad is droppable?
In order for the ipad to be successful in the healthcare industry, it's going to have to open up the platform significantly. When has anything from Apple ever played nice with non-Apple devices and software?

(DISCLAIMER: I help run the computers for a private practice)
Actually, efficiency is exactly what has kept tablets from taking off in healthcare. Efficiencies in "they system" aside, what matters to a practice is what is efficient FOR THE DOCTOR. Simply put, the doctor's time is the engine for the whole business, and any practice would much rather pay an office worker before/after each appointment to fetch/data entry charts and let the doctor focus on patients.
Every minute the doctor spends with a tablet is less time she spends with a patient. With previous tablets, the time difference was substantial enough that it projected to several less patients per day, which over the course of a year is a huge hit to the bottom line. The iPad will no doubt be better, but still not as fast as shorthand on a chart for most offices. Tablets will make inroads first in imaging centers and large hospitals, where other functions and sharing of data are large enough benefits to compensate, but, for a huge number of doctors, the economics of switching to tablets just do not add up, because it hurts their business' efficiency.
That said, I would LOVE for my practice to pick up a couple of iPads, and most doctors I know under 40 want to switch. As long as the doctor time differential is there, though, the economics say no -- but there is about eleventy kajillion dollars out there on the table for the shop who can make hardware/software that allows doctors to fetch/retrieve patient data as quickly and easily as whatever their current preferred method happens to be.

Uh, iPhone applications have supported peripherals for a while now...
And who says it won't be droppable? Anyone who owns this is going to buy the apple case or a case of another manufacturer.

The iPad in the the medical field would be perfect for retrieving medical and patient data. The big problem as @dev has pointed out is the way the iPad should be used. Like any device of this nature is can not and should not be used to replace an individual in every circumstance. It should only be used as a quicker way to retrieve, view, share or update information.
In a doctor's office or a hospital setting and implemented properly the iPad(s) can increase productivity as patient data can be retrieved and updated instantly. And in cases of emergency requiring multiple doctors assessments who are far way or en-route they can would all be able to view the same records simultaneously and be ready upon arrival. So the time spent using the iPad should be no more but possibly less than with pen and paper. At the same time it can also prevent wasted time by giving doctors access themselves when necessary instead of asking and waiting for an assistant to retrieve said information. But it all depends on proper implementation, proper software, and doctors who are are open-minded enough to see the benefits.

It is not a question of open-mindedness, though a lot of (especially older) doctors are resistant to change. It is a question of streamlining the patient care pipeline, which tablets in general have failed to do. Specifically, for doctors requesting information, in non-emergency situations most clinics have it down to a science; somebody has retrieved all necessary information by the time the doctor gets around to needing it. The doctor (and PA/RN) time is what keeps the business running, so any changes that hurt (or just do not help) them will be met with skepticism. In other words, it is not enough for the iPad to be quicker -- it has to be quicker for the right person. If it is:
Pad and Paper

  • 3 minutes for dr + 12 minutes for office worker = 15 minutes total


  • 8 minutes for dr +0 minutes for office worker = 8 minutes total

Even if the iPad is overall faster, it will still lose out in most practices, because with paper the doctor has already moved on to the next patient, or given the current patient extra attention, in that extra 5 minutes. The office worker's having to spend extra 12 minutes will neither hurt the patient nor the practice's bottom line.
It may seem small, but that, as much as any luddite tendencies, is the reason so many practices have not even embraced electronic medical records -- because almost all implementations save the administrative staff some time but make it harder on the clinicians (doctors/nurses) and/or hurt the practice's bottom line.
EMR (and the iPad's possible role) do have many systemic advantages, though, which is why the government will essentially be bribing doctors to switch by a target date, and cutting payments to those who do not ( http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/588354 ). Still, as long as the day-to-day incentives go the wrong way for most physicians, it will be a tough sell, which is why there will be that eleventy kajillion dollars there for the people who nail it perfectly.

(disclaimer: I'm a vascular surgery PA-C who has used several EMRs and a previous tablet input device)
The point of my earlier statement was that the iPad itself would not neccessarily equal attention taken away from patient care.
I personally do not know if the iPad would work as an adequate form factor for patient documentation. IMO (based upon my experience with the iPhone), Apple has a better chance of implementing such a device , but it has many hurdles to overcome. Such as the hardware being embraced by the third party emr. Data input would have to be simple and quick (a good speech to text option should be included). No one denies that scratching out a few lines on the paper chart is not quicker and probably easier but that does not mean better.
The fact is the government is not bribing practices into using EMRs, they are extorting them into it. The conversion was tough, and to change brands was also tough. Although, it does have a few advantages. First and foremost , it is legible. Another important feature is remote access (from the hospital, or other offices).
Many of your points I agree with, many physicians (some older and some not) do not embrace change. That however does not mean as an industry that we should not look to technology to assist where it can. This is one of those times when exploring the possiblities is important.
(Why am I yelling, and where the heck did this soapbox come from?)

Agreed 100% -- all I wanted to convey is that many (if not most) physicians that have not embraced EMR, and who may not embrace the iPad, are not Luddites, but most have sound reasons for doing so.
We actually use Athena, which gives the most crucial benefit to us -- instant remote access -- but not their EMR, because it simply did not help enough to offset the costs, and did slow a few things down. Don't get me wrong; I would dearly love us to find a EMR, and every few months, I look at it again. I also do not know if the iPad will work in this theater, but I will probably justify my own iPad purchase as research :)
And I said bribe/cut payments because it sounded somehow cleaner than extortion, but, now that you put the word out there, I am not going to disagree, there, either :)

We are in the process of introducing an electronic Patient Care Reporting system. We are one of the larger Fire Departments in the country and run 85% medical calls. The ePCR system on a tablet computer is so efficient that our field team of medics assumes that they will be faster then beforehand on paper and they assume that they will have 90% of calls complete prior to hospital arrival. The efficiency of this system comes through a very intuitive user interface. After having worked with this system for a couple of month in our test phase I am confident that one can develop something that will empower a doctor to take his data while being with a patient in many non ER room scenarios without losing patient communication.

@G: every doctor I have ever known leaves me waiting in the room as he goes to the computer to look up medical information or prescription stuff. I would much rather he stay in the office and do that stuff on an ipad than leave me waiting in the office while he does it. An ipad would make his work easier and more efficient to have information readily available.

My friend is a nurse at a hospital and all the doctors and some nurses have iPhones where they keep information relating to patients health history, diagnosis and what prescription medicine is right. I can only see the iPad helping with less paper work. Who wants to write on paper anymore, constantly looking for pens and then other nurses look at it and say, "what did they write here?"

If a developer could create an ePCR system for the iPad, they could be set for life... Other companies selling ePCR for ambulances are charging mega bucks, plus the EMS service needs to purchase a laptop or MANY to work properly. The iPad is affordable enough for even the small volunteer ambulance to get one, and a decent fee for the software would make them a must have...

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